The Little Things In Life


January 2011 has been quite a fast-paced and interesting month. As the end of the month comes nearer, I decided to make a list of all the big and little things that I really loved doing and the things that I saw and which made an impact on me this month. I doubt I have ever had a month-long phase of excitement. This is bound to happen when you go on a trip, meet super cool people, and……

1. Bus journeys and books

2. Paper Tickets

3. Meeting new people

4. Watching Nobel Laureates and Booker Prize winners talk….and make out with random people

5. Vodka high!

6. Neon lighting at night

7. Mirrors

8. Photography

9. Shopping for birthday presents

10. Packing dainty jewellery

11. Group lunch

12. Walking alone on the streets of Jaipur and Delhi (A Classic Scene from my imagined movie- Single In the City)

13. Boots

14. Pizza in bed

15.  Fortune cookies

16. Pools and fountains

17. Palaces

18. Rose bouquets

19. Bookstores

20. Coffee

21. Exotic Dinners

22. Old Songs

23. Concerts

24. Earphones

25. Camels and Elephants

26. Sunny Days in Winters

27. Cool Couples

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Books Are Always Fun…here comes another one!


The Bracelet – A Tag and Book Promotion.

I was thrilled after Tikulicious tagged me in her post. What’s more? she had a task set out for me.  So, first, I thank Tikuli Aunty for tagging me in her blog post and secondly, I thank her for giving me such an interesting quiz to do, because I, for one, LOVE answering questionnaires. 🙂

So here goes:

The Bracelet is a book by newbie Ishaan Lalit. It captures in it mystery, fantasy, legends and myths and I am sure it will give the sense of elation which I feel after reading every book which combines a little of everything I mentioned above. Hence, I am looking forward to reading this book.

Do check the book out and be there at the book launch at Delhi and Faridabad!

Here is a grab of the back cover of the book:

Abhay stood up. He was in a field of grass. Then he heard horses coming. Abhay looked to his right and then to his left, and saw that he was surrounded by horse riders. They stopped just before the dense grass and waited. A man appeared out of nowhere, walked up to him, and held up his hand revealing a bracelet.

What is the secret of the bracelet? Why is everybody after it? And who will get it: the Tantrics or the Arthrakshaks?
Abhay, an ordinary college-going boy, is thrust into a world of secrets, lies, deceit, and supernatural entities. He finds out that he is an integral part of a war that he must win to save himself and his family from destruction. Will he be able to do it? To find out, read this fascinating novel that you just won’t be able to put down!

 

And now comes my favorite part! The Tag! I hope you too will post this on your blog and enjoy this little questionnaire.

1. What does the name suggest?  Could be anything you know, even “Oops its my wife/girl friend’s birthday, what do I get her” Just put it down

Ans.  The name bracelet to me suggests the feminineness of a woman. It suggests the delicate but, also the  powerful body and mind of a woman. A bracelet, however fragile it looks, is strong enough to wrap itself snugly around a woman’s wrist and heart. The traditional Indian bracelet-the bangle becomes a part of a young woman’s identity and a symbol of the colourful culture of India.

2. If your loved one presented you a bracelet, what would you want it to be made of?  Alternatively if you had to present a bracelet to your sweetheart, what would you pick?

a.) Gold

b) Gold and rubies

c) Diamonds babe, just diamonds

d) Whateva, its gotta be expensive and look it!

e) Simple iron kada, or a silver one.  Not showy

Ans. Well, I would really want a sparkly diamond bracelet from my sweetheart. But for want of realism, I would like a simple silver bracelet, so option (e) is the best! I would like to present my sweetheart a simple silver bracelet too….no chains though! (this also probably shows the kind of ‘sweetheart’ I am looking for 😉 )

 

3. Suppose your bracelet (or kada) had magical qualities (Like Aladin’s lamp) what magical qualities would you want it to have?  Let your imagination run riot … anything, money, power, world domination, elixir of youth …. Just pen it down – or punch them keys

Ans. I would like my bracelet to have the power I have always wanted to have- the power to turn back time. Yes, you could say I like to live in the past, but that is how I like it. I want to turn back time to relive the beautiful memories, to learn from the past by closely reading it again, and perhaps even to string together the past, present and future to understand relationships. No wonder I am a history student right?

 

4. Do snakes scare you or do you get strangely fascinated by them?

Ans. That is a tricky question considering some parts of both are true. Yes, snakes do fascinate me: their colours, their texture, their sleek movement, and their sly looks. But like all mysterious and fascinating things, I am also a little scared of them. Perhaps it is because those sly looks spell out ‘Deceit’. Those iridescent colours promise to take you into a world where everything will be beautiful, only for you to get lost in an unknown world forever.

 

5.  Harry Potter could speak Parseltongue.  Do you wish you could?

Ans. This is something I have never thought about. Maybe yes, I would like to speak parseltongue to unravel the mind of the snake and find out if I can trust him after all.

 

6.  What do you dream about?  No this is not about day dreaming, it’s not about wishful thinking, it’s about being in dreamland.

Ans. I dream about people, and thus obviously relationships. I dream about the people and the things I have lost, the people and things I am yet to encounter and of course. I also dream about the present, sometimes in a more twisted way than they really are!

 

7. Do you remember your dreams?

Ans. Yes, I do remember my dreams.

 

8. Ever had your dreams interpreted?

Ans. I try to interpret my dreams on my own. Having done some psychology and being intrigued by Freud, I have always tried to find out why I dreamt what I dreamt. Was my dream a reflection of my fears? or desire? Or both? (Clearly, I am very influenced by Freudian Psychology)

 

9. Do you keep a dream diary?

Ans. No.

 

10. Your favorite wrist jewellery?

a). Bangles

b)  Bracelet

c) Expensive Watch

d) Friendship band

e) Taveez or sacred thread (mouli)

Ans. My favourite piece of wrist jewellery is a bracelet. Simple and showy at the same time. Delicate and feminine. And the perfect accessory to dress up the arms. An expensive watch comes next..in fact very close to the bracelet.

 

I hope you guys will repost this too! I am sure you will enjoy!

1. Blehnblah

2. Indian Scripts

3. Mirror Mirror

4. Jaclyn Rae’s Blog

5. Up and Down Like The Assyrian Empire!

 


 

It is National Voters Day and I got my I-card!!


25th January in India is celebrated as National Voters Day, this is a fact I have just come to know of. And what better way to celebrate this day than getting my own voter’s identity card?

Yes, I am finally old enough(well, I was old enough a year ago too) to make decisions for myself and for my country. Now I have a legitimate right to choose my own leader (however corrupt they are).

So, even though the function today in honour of this awesome day was pretty useless and forced, I still plan to think of the wonderful advantages of becoming a legitimate voter.

I can finally use my own brains and decide which fool I want to see governing my country. Even though I will be given all kinds of bribes by the high class of politicians who turn into beggars at the time of elections, no amount of money, alcohol, blankets and saris must blur my vision of  a brighter India with sensible leaders.

I can happily cast my vote along with scores of other learned men, for which now I must attempt to learn more of the political scenario of the country so I can make a good and unbiased decision about who might be the best possible candidate.

Now that I have a voter’s id card, I MUST go and put my vote and make full use of my right to Adult Franchise. Otherwise there is no point in turning 18 and getting a piece of plastic paper with my picture on it. I already have 5 other cards with my lovely picture on them. So this one better be put to some good use!

I guess now I have to wait for the next phase of elections in my city, but till then I can happily show my card off! Not to forget use it as a mark of my existence on this lovely planet!

Earth Alert


December 15-21 was British Council Library’s Third International Climate Champions Camp. It was one of the many, but sadly hardly noticed events to gather attention towards the Earth and its future. While only a few members were able to go to Goa to study the fragile ecosystem of the place, most of us still sat at home wasting energy.

I don’t see why it is so difficult to care a little about our earth and make that tiny effort to save it and the other species on it. Why is it so difficult to get up from the bed and throw those pencil shavings in the dustbin. Why is it so difficult to walk 5 meters to throw a chips’ packet in the bin when it is right there in front of you? Why is it so difficult to remember to switch off the lights when you step out of a room?

If it is not so difficult, then why doesn’t it happen?

I wonder if having such big conferences and International camps has any value in life besides its stamp on a CV. After all, the first effort to change the future of the earth begins from our own homes. People who have just come back after gathering such ‘awareness’ are still the ones to throw plastic bags and other rubbish in the water. Even the most educated people do not posses basic manners and civic ethics.

What is required is training (shamefully enough) in such basic habits. It is the parents who are the first ever teachers to a child. Thus, it is their duty to first, get rid of their bad habits and then, point out to their children everything they throw a sweet wrapper from a moving car.

Next comes the school. Unfortunately, the only way that I see to teach children is to fine them every time they leave the lights on, or leave pencil shavings on the floor/inside the desk, and stick chewing gum on random places. I know it is not exactly fair to fine a little kid for doing such trivial ‘crimes’, but then, how else to teach them?

How else will they learn of the importance of saving the environment? These are just the tiniest of methods to save our only home. Even Mars won’t be able to give us what the Earth is giving! What is the point of making such huge efforts like participating in International Conferences and camps when they will be forgotten after a few days?

We blame architects for planning buildings which use glass, which in turn use more energy in these tropical summers. But are we ourselves helping?

How many times has one heard of using public transport instead of private, arranging car pools, using bio-efficient lighting and other products, using less of plastic and more of jute and cloth, using less electricity for petty tasks and doing things manually sometimes?? All in vain.

I really wonder when we will stop displacing the blame and take some responsibility for our actions. I wonder when we will start fulfilling our duties and making little obligations for nature, which is only a giver, never a taker.

I Don’t Want to Become a Passive Smoker


Dear Mr. Smoker,

I know you have no interest in your health and have no regard for others’ opinion either. But please, do try to understand that I do not want to become a smoker. Not even a passive smoker.

I do not want to have black lungs. More than that, I do not want to cough like an asthmatic patient, which is also is to say, I do not want to get asthma. Nor do I want to experience any sort of breathlessness.

Do you realize that every time I stand next to you, you smell like old socks and smoke? The smell makes me want to gag… you as well as myself.

I know you are least concerned about the health of other people in your life. But please, just slow down for a moment and think about your family….or any person you are spatially closest to. What pleasure do you get in exposing them to that cancer causing agent in your hand called a cigarette?

If you think that smoke will do nothing, then read this:

The first global study into the effects of passive smoking has found that second hand smoke causes 600,000 deaths every year – this is more than 1% of all deaths. One-third of those killed are children, often exposed to smoke at home.

The report estimates that 165,000 children die of smoke-related respiratory infections, mostly in South East Asia and in Africa. It said that this group was more exposed to passive smoking than any other group, principally in their own homes. The mix of infectious diseases and second-hand smoke is a deadly combination. As well as being at higher risk of a series of respiratory conditions, the lungs of children who breathe in passive smoke may also develop more slowly than children who grow up in smoke-free homes. The report further said that worldwide, 40% of children, 33% of non-smoking men and 35% non-smoking women were exposed to second-hand smoke in 2004. This exposure was estimated to have caused 379,000 deaths from heart disease, 165,000 from lower respiratory infections, 36,900 from asthma and 21,400 from lung cancer.

According to the study, the highest numbers of people exposed to second-hand smoke are in Europe and Asia and the lowest rates of exposure were in the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa. The research also revealed that passive smoking had a large impact on women, killing about 281,000 worldwide. This is due to the fact that in many parts of the world, the study suggests, women are at least 50% more likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke than men.[Courtesy: doctorndtv.com]

So please, if you have a heart, and if it is not black and insensitive already with all that soot….stop smoking. If you possibly cannot stop that, spare us and please stop smoking in a public place.
Thank you. 

A Ray of Hope


I took this picture in the Kamla Nagar Market near the North Campus of Delhi University.

This little girl, was so engrossed in her school books that she didnt even notice us clicking a picture of her. While she studied, her mother and brother continued to sell  trinkets in the street market. Now this is what gives me a little hope and indication, that the future of women’s education is a little brighter than a decade ago.

On my vacation to Lakshadweep, I saw more girls going to school than boys. What’s more? They were happy to go to school and learn about the world outside their little island.

At the servant quarters near the  apartment complex where I live, one can find that most families send their children, even their little girls to school right from the beginning till they complete  10th class.  Some hard working girls have even gone on to study further. Now they have respectable jobs in banks, or housing firms, etc. where they enjoy a good salary, and most importantly, a sense of self-pride and self-respect.

For the rest of the families which won’t send their girls to schools….I have to show to them this picture. I hope they take some inspiration from it.

Where Heaven Meets Earth: Lakshadweep!


After our trip to Kerala, next in line were the islands of Lakshadweep. Initially, I didnt want to go there as I was scared I will miss out on valuable preparation time for my exam. Little did I know what I was about to miss??

Lakshadweep-  meaning a lakh islands….is a place where one forgets that a world exists where one has to struggle every moment to stay ahead and active in life, where all kinds of tensions: family, work and personal growth is a pain in the neck. Lakshadweep is a place where you think of angels on Earth, where you LIVE that filmy image of sitting peacefully in a bikini, on the white sands ….sipping on coconut water and thinking about how beautiful life is. Lakshadweep is a place which takes you away from real life…..!

The moment we got off the boat jetty on the island of Kalpeni, all we could see was clear, blue water and lush green coconut trees ALL around us. We were driven to the beach,in a small tempo on a road that was only wide enough to accommodate that particular vehicle. On both sides of the road were trees and more trees, and small huts of the inhabitants. Once every few metres, we would see a concrete single/double storeyed building. Beyond the trees, on all sides, was the sea!! (remember, its an island!!)

And the colour of the sea? A clean, clear, shiny blue whose surface glistened when the sun’s rays fell on it. It was so clear that we could see the floor of the sea so well, as if we were standing right on it.

After reaching the beach, we promptly changed into our swimsuits and went for snorkeling. India’s only coral islands, Lakshadweep has to offer, a variety of water sports like scuba diving, kayaking, glass boating, snorkeling, sea bathing, etc.

I wonder if we even needed to go into the water to see all that coral….as I already said, the water was so clear we could already see everything from above. However, how could we resist the temptation to get into such brilliantly blue, clean waters? Where the sun was just warm enough while we were in the cool water. Add to that, the B-E-A-Utiful corals that we saw….red, green, blue…in the most wonderful shapes imaginable: cactus like, starfish-like, brain corals, capsicum and pumpkin like (!)…….it was sheer bliss.

At both the islands, Kalpeni and Kavaratti (the capital island), we were welcomed by the locals and offered coconut water which immediately set the mood for some beach fun! At both the islands, we did kayaking and a bit of sea bathing which was a delight, even as much of the salty sea water went into our mouths.

Our Sand Castle!!

AN Holding A crab in a Shell

After enjoying the water sports, we had a lunch of tuna fish and then went back to sit on the sand to make sand castles. My friend and fellow blogger AN, her brother and me, even though we are mature adults now, sat like kids in the sand and threw it over each other as we made our lovely little castle (and fixed a little flag on it!). The unique and best thing about these sands was their super-fine texture and their bright, white color. Thanks to the limited tourist population (one has to get a permit to come, foreigners are allowed only on certain islands), the beaches are relatively clean and still a treat for the eye. Although some people were inconsiderate enough to throw paper cups in the water.  The local population, respects their natural surroundings and helps keep it really really clean. No wonder we fell in love with the place!

Speaking of the people of Lakshadweep, one would expect the locals of these small islands to be like the adivasis of Andaman and Nicobar. But they are pretty much the opposite. Lakshadweep has undergone a considerable amount of development, and development in a positive direction. Even though there is a 100% orthodox Muslim population, we could see school-going girls prancing around in their uniforms. There were posters of family planning and polio drops on the walls of the buildings indicating a good level of education-both literary and civic.

All in all, even though our trip to Kerala will be cherished, our trip to Lakshadweep will be Remembered and Thought of Repeatedly. As we are doing now!!! I mean, come on? We are now back to the bitter cold of Delhi after spending two weeks on beaches getting a tan and sipping coconut water!! 

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Kerala diaries: Food


As most Indians would probably know, Kerala is the land of Idlis, dosas, appams and sambhar. But sadly, despite the availabilty of these dishes at most places….I discovered that even the best of restaurants do not serve the authentic form of South Indian food.

In the name of dosas, we get fancy ‘Paper dosas’, ‘Set dosas’, etc. What I had in Kerala was a somewhat different version of the dosa that we get in Delhi. It is a little thicker than a chapatti and is not always served crisp and golden. Nevertheless, the taste is just right!

Idlis (rice cakes) are small and soft cakes of fermented rice dough and the sambhar has a variety of vegetables usually readily available in the south like cucumber, and tapioca stems, and seasoned with tamarind, not tomato.

But of course the spices! (Ouch!) It took me a day to get used the spices. My mom surprisingly took a longer time. But then, they just enhanced the flavour of the dishes. Even while roaming around in the street markets, one could take in the fragrances of cardamom, pepper, star anise, and a host of other strong, but pleasant spices.

At many places we had a kheer like dish, but instead of using rice, they used something like noodles in the milk, which sorta spoiled our mood. But apart from that, the local halwas and the sweet dishes made with rice were a treat for the tongue! Although you could make out the extensive use of coconut oil in the halwas, but that didnt bother us much after a few spoonfuls.

Karimeen fish wrapped in banana leaf and fried

The specialty of the backwaters

We also gorged on the special fish of the backwaters, known as the karimeen fish. The karimeen fish is a fresh water fish, which is soft and when fried well, gives a nice flavour to the tongue. The most popular version is the Karimeen Pollichathu, which is karimeen fish wrapped in a banana leaf and fried (Pollichathu means wrapped in banana leaf).

Uncooked Karimeen fish

Buying banana chips of course, was a given. The best part is, that most shops would make the chips right in front of you and serve them to you right then. However, we discovered that they tasted better when cool.

Sharja-some innovations aren't all that good!

We also tried something called ‘Sharja’. Seeing it on every restaurant’s menu, we were pretty eager to find out what it was. Turned out to be an ice-cold (chilled in fact) milkshake with coffee, banana, and chocolate powder, and ice. Though it sounds very interesting, to be honest, it is not very impressive.

Kerala, and most of the rest of south India, also has numerous varieties of the banana and coconut. The most popular was the orange coconut and the red banana. Although the red bananas were similar in taste as the yellow ones, the orange coconuts we found to be a tad sweeter than the green ones. What more, these coconuts were the perfect thirst buster!! 

Regardless, we did realize that the Keralites make full use of their bananas and coconuts and try to create a variety of things with these resources! In the end, the best thing that I liked about Kerala food was still the dosas and banana chips. 🙂

Oh!! Did I just forget the best part of having food in South India!! On Banana Leaves!!! Yes! we had food on banana leaves instead of plates…just in the traditional way. Now why dont we do the same everywhere?? Economical, eco-friendly and the coolest way to have food! Woohoo!! 😀

Kerala Diaries: Travelling and People


Lungi land!!

As I mentioned in my last post, travelling in Kerala’s ‘green streets’ was a fascinating experience on its own. My mother is one of those people, who, when they go to a different place, like to engage with the locals and learn more about them, not by travelling in taxis and watching them from a distance, but travelling with them, eating with them and sitting with them and talking to them.

Naturally, the only thing she preferred was travelling by the local and inter-city buses. Although initially, I was not so keen on doing the same, but when I did, I was glad and thankful that I got to know the people at closer quarters than most tourists.

For most of the year, Kerala experiences heavy rains as a result of which, most roads get damaged. It is difficult to maintain and keep repairing these roads round the year, so most of them are just let be. Obviously, as a result the road trip to most places was a little rickety, if not entirely unpleasant. The auto-rickshaw ride from Kumarakom to Kottayam was especially rickety, so much so, that it seemed we were riding on a motor-driven bullock cart.

The bus rides were a little better. Although the drivers loved rash driving in the narrowest of lanes, the driver and conductor were courteous and helpful, considering we did not understand the local language. Moreover, the blaring of loud Malyali film music (which is not too bad by the way!) made the journey even more enjoyable.

Speaking of courtesy, the Malyali people of Kerala do not immediately come across as very helpful. They hardly ever take the initiative to help out two women who are carrying heavy luggage. But they will help if asked. The Keralites dont even seem to be very keen on smiling, but otherwise, they are pleasant people.

The buses have no reserved seats for ladies either. But then, I noticed the fact that the men do not sit with the women.

Whether these facts have something to do with insensitivity towards the woman or belief in women’s empowerment and equality, I am not too sure. But probably, with a literacy rate of 100%, the women must feel a sense of pride, thus leading to these practices.

The blend of tradition and modernity is evident in the Keralite way of dressing and ethics too. While the women continue to oil their hair liberally with coconut oil hair every morning (imagine my state when I had to travel with them in the buses…my nose filled with the  fragrance of coconut), they have started to get out of heavy saris and into salwar suits which suit the hot and humid climate more. Although, the process of getting acquainted with and acceptance of modern ideas is slow (Kerala being known for its traditional outlook), it is definitely visible. The men wear long shirts with their lungis, which hilariously enough, they repeatedly pick up and re-tie them even when standing in the middle of the street (no, no show of inappropriate parts of the body/underclothes). With a high per capita income, however, everyone from the police man, to the bus driver wears clean, ironed and crisp cotton clothes.

Overall, Keralites come across to be very simple people. They are happy and satisfied with their lives and do not interfere with others’ lives unless absolutely needed. The women, sometimes, still a little traditional in their outlook, asked my mother where her husband was and pressed till she answered. But I guess, this is a typical Indian thing. People have still not accepted the idea of two women travelling alone.

Of course, talking about the people I encountered, how can I not mention the scores of Sabarimala pilgrims we saw on the way…wherever we went! This happened to be the season (December-January) of the annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala in which thousands of worshipers of the deity- Ayappa travel to the Sabarimala temple whilst practicing a strict regimen of austerity, etc. One would expect them to be polite and calm pilgrims who do not bother about the worldy things that matter us. But how wrong I was in thinking so! These pilgrims are as shrieky and loud and their groups as chaotic as those of the Kumbh Mela. But even seeing them make a ruckus was pretty amusing as they would sort of represent another culture altogether. They would more often than not, move around in huge groups, circling around a picture of their deity and chanting prayers wherever they found space. They would make and eat their meals together on make shift stoves and seeing them together, would make me think of them as a different country in Kerala.

A Woman cutting up a coconut for us

On the whole, like I have repeatedly said, I have enjoyed my stay in Kerala, and my interaction, however limited, with the people. I would be rather confused if asked to decide between the people of Delhi, with their broad outlook and relatively independent lifestyle; and the people of Kerala, with their curt manners and respect for their surroundings.

Kerala Diaries: A Treat for the eyes


Residential colony in Kumarakom

The first thing which strikes you when you wander in the streets  of Kerala is the beautiful blend of tradition and modernity.

Walking on the streets of Kochi and Vaikom, we saw single and double-storeyed houses among dense clusters of coconut trees. The beauty of this simple idea was refreshing and reminiscent of my school books which had pictures of rural areas. Except for the main city square, Kochi and Viakom had managed to maintain the presence of a green cover along with the comfort of a concrete roof, something which most cities, including Delhi has miserably failed at.

How easy it seemed, to have a house constructed in the lap of a coconut grove. How comforting it seemed, to think of stepping out of one’s house into a garden with huge leaves of the banana and coconut trees to give some shade from the burning Kerala sun. But then, I reminded myself that Kochi was not, a metro like Delhi, and constructing buildings like these would not only be a luxury, but perhaps nearly impossible to make. Nevertheless, the urge to stay back in these streets and sit under the canopy of the tall coconut trees did not leave me for a long time.

Talking to a few people (which seemed a little difficult as only a few spoke English or Hindi), we found out that traditionally, before cement started to be used for constructing walls, houses were constructed using sea shells. The amazing part is that these traditional houses still stand erect, after years and years of the burning sun and pouring rain, something which Kerala goes through for most of the year. Our hotel, in Kumarakom, being an example in case, was a house 140 years old, with a wooden roof (which, of course, had to be repaired regularly) and a top like a hut, which had holes for air and smoke ventilation. Like most houses of Kerala, it had a sloping, tiled roof to keep away the rain water.

Our hotel in Kumarakom

Yet again, thus, I saw the blend of tradition and modernity, when we entered the hotel room to find a television set and an air conditioner waiting for us to switch them on after a long, bumpy bus ride.

This was right next to the road!

Another interesting aspect of Kerala is the frequent use of boats for travelling. Being a backwater region, water often seeps in wherever it finds place and takes the form of small canals and rivulets. Hence, in some cases, the only possible way to reach one place from another is to use small boats…even if just to cover a distance of a kilometre! We even saw people travelling by boat right next to the road!

Sunshine, coonut and wood: these are things the Keralites know very well how to use. Most houses, like already mentioned, are made of wood. Boats are made of wood. The poorer sections could be easily identified by their houses. Typically, the material used for their houses was coconut fibre. These are not the same kind of almonds that we eat usually, it seems. They look like Colocasia and are rough and

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hairy. (no, I’m not describing a man) See for yourself.

About to enter the Vembanad lake...by boat of course!!

The wealthier households had banana orchards and coconut groves in the vicinity of their single storeyed houses. Apartments are rare and are only seen in the main city.

All in all, Kerala is the place to go when you want to soothe your eyes and relax your body and mind. Go for an ayurvedic massage, stroll in the semi-rural Kumarakom, shop in Vytilla, and bask  in the sunshine (that-you can do anywhere!!) and learn more about nature and animals in the bird sanctuaries. No wonder, it is called ‘God’s Own Country’!